“We’re a distribution center. We’re not clinicians, but the thing we point out as we look at those videos is the bouffant cap, the isolation gown, the N95 masks, the booties and the gloves,” said supply chain distribution and logistics vice president at the Northwell Health Integrated Distribution Center, Paul Spodek. “We remind all of our associations, our employees, and our drivers that all of these items came from us.”
Spodek speaks about his watching of videos showing coronavirus patients leaving Northwell’s hospitals, as do many other employees at Northwell Health’s distribution center as they take in their key roles in the health care supply chain that has become so vital throughout the pandemic.
Northwell Health is the largest healthcare employer in New York, operating 23 hospitals and partnering with Penske Logistics for its supply and resource transportation needs.
“We did the receiving, the pick, pack, and ship, and the Penske drivers did the deliveries,” said Spodek. “What goes on behind the scenes is such a key part of the whole healthcare process.”
Penske has more than 1,100 drivers working within the dedicated contract carriage sector to deliver materials to hospitals, according to senior vice president of operations for dedicated contract carriage at Penske, Jeff Jackson.
“Each hospital is unique in terms of the delivery point,” he said, adding that there are even sometimes various delivery points in one hospital.
This is true at Northwell Health, and Spodek noted that Penske provides intense transport and loading training to its drivers that end up serving Northwell.
“Every one of our hospitals is different,” Spodek said. “The loading docks are different. The supply rooms are in different locations.” Northwell has items brought in on rolling carts and in plastic shipping totes, he noted. “We’ll wrap those and load those on a truck a certain way.”
To keep supplies moving, workers in warehouses and distribution centers also have to work quickly and efficiently, according to Spodek.
A McKesson distribution center in Dallas, Texas also stepped up to the plate after receiving a crucial call from American Medical Response. The group asked for 81 oxygen tanks for ambulances and crew heading to coronavirus hot spots throughout New York and New Jersey.
To meet demands, McKesson brought in additional automation to its distribution centers to help workers, and was then able to bring more efficient service to those in need–even during the huge upticks in demand.
“Team McKesson jumped into action and pulled together a multi-department crew that immediately took the job to heart and formed a fast-paced assembly line,” said Ammie McAsey, McKesson’s senior vice president of distribution operations. She added that the team was able to package all 81 requested oxygen tanks within a span of 30 minutes.
McKesson’s independent pharmacy chain, Health Mart, is also partnering with eTrueNorth–a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services contractor–as part of a collection site in order to boost access to coronavirus testing.
Testing supplies, customer support materials, and personal protective equipment were all brought together into a McKesson distribution center and shipped to all participating Health Marts throughout the country as part of national virus testing efforts.
“McKesson’s hub-and-spoke distribution network has enabled inventory to be deployed to hot spots on a daily basis,” said McAsey.
Mckesson has also been able to collect additional important products, including backup products, to be able to ensure equitable distribution and the proper allocation of supplies through business continuity planning, according to the company’s senior vice president of supply chain management, Chris Alverson.
McKesson also continues to collaborate with industry partners, government agencies, and manufacturers to be ready for pandemic-related shortages and to respond to higher-than-usual demands for medication and other resources.
Dependability is also high within Kenco Logistics, where company vice president of operations, Michelle Kunde, has a team working to provide high-touch, white-glove service. To meet accountability, Kenco facilities provide extensive training and coordination regarding the needs of every customer.
One aspect of Kenco’s responsibilities include the handling of temperature-controlled non-narcotic pharmaceuticals, which, of course, requires extreme care and expertise.
“We’ll have dry ice containers, so there are unique handling requirements that require experienced drivers,” said Kunde.